Riders keep heat on over RIPTA cuts

Riders and employees of the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority gathered in Providence Tuesday to protest proposed cuts in federal funding for public transportation.

Employees and supporters joined forces in Kennedy Plaza to rail against a proposed 36 percent cut in funding.

RIPTA chief executive Charles Odimgbe said the proposed federal cuts would affect the agency’s capital budget.

“We will truly be in big trouble if we cannot keep our vehicles in good repair,” Odimgbe said.

The federal funding cuts would come on top of RIPTA’s existing financial troubles.

“In addition to the funding deficits that we are dealing with on our operating side,” Odimgbe said.

The RIPTA deficit is estimated at $4.6 million. The agency said it is coming up with proposed spending cuts that could affect jobs and service.

RIPTA riders say they don’t want service reduced.

“I depend on buses to get me to and from my doctor’s appointments, my therapy appointments,” said Don Rhodes of North Providence.

“It’s very important. I go to the Trudeau Center, and if buses are cut I won’t be able to go and my friends won’t be able to go there,” said Dora Horta of Coventry.

RIPTA officials said they cannot give a final plan yet, but Odimgbe said all routes will remain but service may not be as frequent.  He said everyone will still have some connection with the rest of the state.

RIPTA officials said they plan to present their final proposal for spending cuts to the board of directors on Sept. 27.

Article source: http://www2.turnto10.com/news/2011/sep/20/riders-keep-heat-over-ripta-cuts-ar-748691/

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